A court in Palermo (Sicily) has ruled out that the state representatives and mobsters secretly negotiated in the early nineties, convicting eight men, including former high-ranking officials, to long prison sentences. According to the verdict, referred by the prosecutor as a “historic ruling,” this collusion harmed the interests of the Italian state.
This ruling crowned a five-year trial, shedding light on the events following deadly bomb attacks and assassinations across Italy. They were perpetrated by the Sicilian mafia, led by the Corleone family. The violence wave in 1992-1993 killed 23 people, including anti-mobster officials.
Prosecutor Antonino Di Matteo stated after the verdict that “some people in the state helped Cosa Nostra.”
“What the ruling says is that parts of the state acted as a go-between for requests from the mob,” he said to the media.
According to the verdict, three former top officials of the paramilitary police were handed 12 years each, while a convicted killer working for Cosa Nostra received a 28-year prison sentence. One of the high ranking suspects on trial, former interior minister Nicola Mancino, was acquitted for false testimony.
Meanwhile former senator Marcello Dell’Utri got 12 years for undermining the state. The politician served as a broker between the state and the mafia.
Dell’Utri, who’s already in prison for conspiring with the mafia and financial fraud, was a co-founder of the Forza Italia party together with former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in 1994. Berlusconi, who wasn’t on trial, named the outcome of the trial “the fruit” of a clear prejudice and denied any collaboration between mobsters and his government.
The prosecutors noted that the state officials started talks with the mobsters soon after prominent anti-mafia judge Giovanni Falcone was assassinated in 1992. The negotiations were held with a Corleone boss of that period Salvatore “Toto” Riina, who died in 2017. This triggered a further wave of attacks and bombings, according to the state attorney. Magistrate Paolo Borsellino who found out about the secret talks was killed; attacks on cultural targets in mainland Italy, in Milan and Florence, followed.
They, however, stopped in 1993. The next year Silvio Berlusconi’s party won the parliamentary elections.